Protect Democracy and Voting Rights Event Celebrates Power of the Vote


Kayleigh Silverstein

Poet Wynter Storm performs “Dear Women” at the Protect Democracy and Voting Rights community event on June 4, 2022. (Photo by Kayleigh Silverstein | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Special Projects Managing Editor, News Writer


Ahead of Utah’s primary election on June 28, various Salt Lake community groups sponsored an event to protect democracy and voting rights. 

The June 4 event was held at Jordan Park, where speakers and performers joined together to celebrate voting rights and access. 

Volunteers from the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan group focused on empowering voters and protecting democracy, registered interested attendees to vote.

The League of Women Voters table at the Protect Democracy and Voting Rights community event on June 4, 2022. (Photo by Kayleigh Silverstein | The Daily Utah Chronicle) (Kayleigh Silverstein)

In an interview prior to the event, Celeste Dorantes, an intern with the League and the Gun Violence Prevention Center and former U student, talked about the importance of individual change, especially in current times. She cited the recent shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo as reasons why she feels so strongly about being a part of the GVPC.

“It’s just really great to be part of an organization that shows how brutal something like this is, but also how we can all come together and try to contact our legislators or just try to make a difference,” Dorantes said. “Not that many believe that just themselves can make a difference, but they can.”

Shauna Bona, the president-elect of the League, said this event is going to be a celebration of access to the ballot and the power of the vote.  

“It’s also a space where other community organizations that are dealing with issues that are extremely important and part of the ‘why’ of voting are also invited to attend,” Bona said. 

Dorantes said it is important for young people to be aware of these various nonprofit groups because it can increase their political participation. 

“Unfortunately, I feel like a lot of my friends, especially here in Utah, they don’t really understand how crucial that is to become involved,” she said. “When we see like the Roe v. Wade stuff, it’s really important to contact your local lawmaker or something because it all starts at the local level.”

Celebrating the Vote

The event began with a land acknowledgment from Ralyn Montoya of the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake. 

“We honor the land we’re on, and its Native people who are the original stewards of this land,” Montoya said. 

Jeanetta Williams, the president of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch, talked about the significance of Juneteenth and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, saying it is important to make one’s vote count. 

Then, Kayden Denny, a senior from Highland High School, performed a storytelling hoop dance. 

After, Charlene Lui from the National Tongan American Society talked about the importance of sharing one’s own story. 

“What I’m saying today is that we represent so many others that have come before us and so I ask you and urge you that we continue that legacy,” Lui said. “Even though we may be smaller in numbers today, each one of us makes such a difference.”

Dorantes also spoke at the event. She expressed how important it is to be politically engaged. 

“I think it’s important to understand that our generation is going to shape the future of this country,” she said. “So we just have to start right now and show up ready.” 

Dancers and drummers from the Ngoma y’Africa Cultural Center shared performances related to the spirit of Ubuntu, which means “I am because we are,” one member explained. 

After speakers from the Gun Violence Prevention Center, Better Boundaries and ACLU of Utah, Wynter Storm shared their poem titled “Dear Women.” 

“Although many have tried to quiet us for so long, we remain strong,” the poem read. “Black women, you are perseverance.”

Then, Montoya returned to the microphone to talk about the Get Out The Vote Campaign, which aims to increase voter registration and turnout. Montoya encouraged Native American people to use their voices and vote. 

“I like to remind many people that democracy is Indigenous,” Montoya said. “Many people don’t think it matters, but it was because of the steps that we’ve taken with being able to vote that we are able to be who we are today.”

Dorantes hopes this event will bring more youth engagement to these community organizations and their missions. 

To the people who are already registered to vote, Bona stressed the importance of the primaries. 

“Instead of thinking like, well, we all showed up and it didn’t matter, it’s like: we all showed up and it mattered, and now it needs to matter a little more to put us over the edge,” she said. 

The deadline to register to vote online or by mail in the Utah primaries is Friday, June 17. In-person voters can register the day of. Individuals in Utah can start preregistering to vote as early as 16 years old.  


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